Autumn Moon


Under an autumn moon:

Endure the devastation following a hurricane in the salt marshes along the Connecticut coast with a young buck under the September moon.

Search for food with an alligator in the Florida Everglades as the October moon rises.

Trek through the Alaskan tundra with a pack of wolves as the November moon selects its survivors.

In this series, acclaimed ...

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Under an autumn moon:

Endure the devastation following a hurricane in the salt marshes along the Connecticut coast with a young buck under the September moon.

Search for food with an alligator in the Florida Everglades as the October moon rises.

Trek through the Alaskan tundra with a pack of wolves as the November moon selects its survivors.

In this series, acclaimed naturalist Newbery-winning author Jean Caighead George takes readers on a wondrous journey each season of the year as she captures the lives of North American animals in their natural habitats.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This fascinating collection of three tales is one of the "Seasons of the Moon" series named for the thirteen new or full moons that occur each calendar year in our solar-based calendar. Originally published in 1969 as individual volumes, each tale bears the name of the North American animal it honors. Most are nocturnal; many are endangered. Jean Craighead George, a noted naturalist and recipient of the Newbery Medal, creates a vivid picture of each animal's habitat. In the "Moon of the Deer," set in a salt-water marsh on the Connecticut shore, readers watch as a young buck challenges an older male for territory and struggles to survive a devastating hurricane. In "The Moon of the Alligators," set in the Florida Everglades, readers accompany a six-foot, female alligator as she searches for food to quell a gnawing hunger. And in "The Moon of the Gray Wolves," set in the mountains of the Alaska Range north of Anchorage, readers witness the prowlings of a wolf pack as they hunt and kill a caribou and try to protect their pups from danger. 2001 (orig. 1969), HarperCollins/HarperTrophy, Braaf
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064421720
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2001
  • Series: Thirteen Moons Series
  • Edition description: 1ST HARPER
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Craighead George wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her other books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Everglades; Arctic Son; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Galapagos George.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Moon of the Deer

The full moon of September rose at a few minutes past six in the evening. The huge orange globe, which seemed to be lit from within, was called the Harvest Moon, the moon of the autumnal equinox. It came up as the sun went down, a phenomenon that gives farmers extra light by which to harvest their crops before the killing frost comes.

For the young males of the white-tailed deer, the all-night moon was the moon of challenge.

Across southern Canada, the United States, and Mexico (with the exception of California, Nevada and Utah), the one-and-a-half-year-old bucks were each sporting two daggerlike antlers. They snorted as they sharpened them on trees and bushes. Challenges were ahead.

One of these young bucks was a resident of Mamacoke Marsh, on the Connecticut shore. Golden-gray in color with large, heavily lashed eyes, he stood in the moonlight on a wooded hill above his span of the tidal marshes. Beyond the marshes stretched the bay and, farther out to sea, the barrier islands.

The young buck was looking down on the continent's end. Here the sea mingled with rippling grasses to make one of the earth's most valuable natural resources. Like all salt marshes, it was a nursery for ocean fish and a food source for the vast variety of life that lives in the estuaries and bays.

At midnight the young buck was resting in the groundsel-tree patch and chewing his cud. Like all deer, he was usually abroad only in the dawn and twilight, but the constant light from the Harvest Moon permitted him to wander from moonrise to moonset. The sound of heavy hoofbeats alerted him. An enormousbuck was coming his way. The young buck's long, sensitive nose, which could pick up at least a million odors we will never know, tingled with the zestful scent of the eight-pointer, the largest and most aggressive white-tailed deer in the Mamacoke Marsh.

The marsh seemed an unlikely home for deer, with its tides and salt water; but it was, in fact, an Eden for the deer. Just behind the beach grew a seaside garden of wildflowerssea lavender, purple gerardia, seaside goldenrod and saltwort — that the deer grazed in summer and early September. On higher and drier soil grew the salt-meadow grass and cordgrass, rich in minerals and vitamins. Even higher grew the switch grass, whose seeds the deer ate. At the land side of the tidal marsh, elder bushes and groundsel trees gave shelter and browse to the deer. Westward of this community of plants stood the oak woods, and beyond them the pines. The marsh was home not only to the deer, but to sparrows, shorebirds, geese, muskrats, raccoons, and otters. It fed millions of shorebirds, geese, and ducks as they migrated back and forth from their breeding to their wintering grounds.

The tempo of the hoofbeats in the groundsel trees increased. The eight-point buck was trotting the young buck's way. The young buck felt the challenge of his new antlers and walked forward to meet him. The older buck grunted a warning. The young one hesitated. Then he moved into the cordgrass and stopped.

The world at his feet was teeming with insects, crabs, snails, spiders, birds, and worms, for the cordgrass nourishes most of the life in the marsh. When the tide comes in, tons of plant minerals dissolve in the water. As it goes out, the minerals and organic material fertilize the channels and estuaries as well as the bays and ocean. Tidal marshes produce ten times as much food as any comparable area on land-fish, scallops, blue crabs, quahogs, and soft-shell clams, by the millions of tons. The white-tailed deer herd of Mamacoke Marsh had inherited a wealthy land.

The groundsel trees cracked, and the magnificent head and antlers of the old buck were thrust into view. They gleamed in the moonlight. In seeming madness, the young buck lowered his head in challenge. His little spikes shone like silver daggers. They had begun to bud in April and had grown all summer under a soft skin called velvet. By early September the spikes were hard and fully developed. Only a few days ago the spike buck had scratched the last tag of velvet from one spike and had polished them both on the trunk of a tree. Now he had turned from a gentle browser into a fighting warrior. He had charged the trees and chased the sea gulls. He had pawed the ground. He had run thirty-five miles an hour, jumped thirty feet horizontally, and leaped eight and a half feet in the air. He had rushed up to meet other spike bucks, lowered his head, and clanked weapons with them halfheartedly. They were still adolescents and not eager to fight.

The rutting, or mating, season was a month away. From late October through February, the older bucks would battle with their antlers to win and then protect their harems, female deer. They began this ritual in September by chasing off the spike bucks. The young bucks were easy to conquer. The spike buck of Mamacoke Marsh was a case in point. The old buck stepped out of the groundsel trees. The spike buck lowered his head to challenge him. The monarch snorted and tossed his huge rack. The sound and sight of the eight-point buck ended the battle. The young buck ran, the white fur under his lifted tail flashing the signal "run, danger." The eight-point buck jogged back into the groundsel trees; but not far.

The spike buck recovered from his scare in the tall cordgrass, which almost reached his shoulders. When he had calmed down, he lowered his head and cropped the seeds. Although he didn't know it, he was meeting another September challenge. His body was demanding a diet that would prepare him for winter-seeds, nuts, fruits, and the twigs of vitamin-rich bushes and trees. Earlier this evening he had smelled hawthorns and sumac inland, but now he dared not pass the eightpoint buck to find them. He settled for the seeds of the marsh grasses and the protection of their tall stems.

Seasons of the Moon: Autumn Moon. Copyright © by Jean Craighead George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

The Moon of the Deer 1
The Moon of the Alligators 27
The Moon of the Gray Wolves 55
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